Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha History

During the period of 1960 to 1970, the majority of the Sikh population in Northern Alberta consisted of University of Alberta students and teachers in rural areas. Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh Ji Janam Utsav and Vaisakhi were celebrated among the tight knit devotees at a small hall in the basement of Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton.

In 1972 and 1973, a large number of new Canadian Sikhs arrived in Edmonton bringing even closer ties to the Sikh tradition and customs. By the mid seventies families began congregating and holding Dewans in their homes. Guruji Prakash, singing religious hymns, Ardas and langer which was prepared by a member of the hosting family.

Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha was first incorporated on May 13th, 1977 in Edmonton. In 1978, a rented hall was located at 111 Avenue and 112 street (South of the RCMP headquarters) in Edmonton became the first temporary home for the members of Singh Sabha. This facility had no large kitchen except a small stove to warm up the prepared langar. The hall was used by different organizations for parties often where alcohol was served and not cleaned up by those patrons. Our sevadors would arrive early before the Prakash of Guru Granth Sahib Ji on Sunday to cleanup (empty alcohol bottles and cigarette butts) and to scrub the floors and walls. As more sangat joined, space was become limited. So the Gurdwara members began their quest in search for a larger and cleaner place.

By 1979, Edmonton’s Gurdwara Singh Sabha rented a new facility located at 12425 Yellowhead Trail. This hall provided for our Akhand Paths and weekly Dewans as well for large celebrations such as Guru Nanak Janam Utsav and Vaisakhi. A number of members of the Gurdwara insisted that we should have our own facility so Tarloachan Singh Batoa, a real estate agent, made a number of inquiries with the City of Edmonton in 1979 to locate a facility that would become the permanent Gurdwara. The City of Edmonton proposed 0.5 acres of land in Richfield area (located at 79 street and 36 Avenue) the Millwood area. The sangat refused, as the site restricted for any expansion and lacked parking for the growing community. With pressure growing from the members of the Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha, consensus grew to own their own facility, and Mr. Tarloachan Singh Batoa was appointed to find a permanent location.

January 28, 1980 the first permanent Gurdwara for Siri Guru Singh Sabha came to exist at 8762-155 street in Edmonton, East of Meadowlark Shopping Center. The location, was based on the fact that a large number of active devotees resided in the west end area. Due to both the very high inflation and interest rate period no financial institution would give a loan for a mortgage.

Personal guarantees were required before Bank of BC would provide a loan for the Gurdwara. The families of Mr & Mrs Jaswant Singh Channe, Mr & Mrs Ranjit Singh Panesar, Mr & Mrs. Baljinder Singh Sandhu and Dr & Mrs Awtar Singh Sekhon came forward to provide their personnel guarantee. A loan of $105, 000 was taken with the Bank of BC. This hall was bought from the Jasper Place Congregation of Jehovah’s Witness.

A resolution was passed on November 7, 1980 to add the word “Society” to the Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, this was registered on November 24, 1980.

During 1980-1982, a large Sikh population started settling in the Millwood area, and they continued to commute to the west end to attend the Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha Society. To facilitate the growing population attending the Gurdwara, additions were completed which included, modifications to the kitchen, additional rooms for the Giani Ji‘s and washroom facilities.

A parcel of land was bought from the City of Edmonton to construct a proper facility to accommodate the growing numbers of devotees from the Millwood area (4504 Millwoods Road South Edmonton). Architect Mr. Ragbir Singh Jagdev worked with our Planning Committee and designed the facility to accommodate the increasing Sikh population. Once the plan was approved and tender was sent to various contractors, Brenex Construction of Sherwood Park was awarded the bid and proceeded with the construction.

Volunteer services of electrical and mechanical design was provided by Mr. Iqbal Singh Kaler and Mr. Sital Nanua. Overall co-ordination of this project was given to Mr. Baljinder Singh Sandhu. There were a number of volunteers who provided free services for the project they included, Surinder Singh Braich representing Klassic Kitchen for all cabinetry. Mr. Hakim Singh Gill for the installation of carpets throughout the facility and numerous others.

The total area for the Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha Society is 3.26 acres. Inside there are two Diwan halls (one large hall on the main floor and a second hall for smaller functions located on the top level), a large kitchen facility, Giani Ji suite, guest rooms, library, one board room and offices for management. This facility can accommodate up to 1,200 people (which includes Diwan halls and dining area). There is a paved parking lot for up to 292 stalls.

On December 31, 1993 Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha Society moved from 97 street and 47 Avenue to the current temple location at 4504 Millwoods Road South Edmonton. We celebrated New Years of 1994 at this new facility and proudly had over five thousand devotees come and join in the celebration. We had honoured a visit from the late Premier Ralph Klein who congratulated the sangat for this remarkable facility.

A general consensus was among the members of the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Society that we must have a Khalsa School in order to preserve the culture and to provide a unique and better education for our future generations. A general meeting on June 6, 1998 was held and it was decided that a parcel of land would be purchased (15 acres located at 50 street and Ellerslie Ave) which would be used for the Khalsa school and the grounds for the community to use.

A Heritage facility was constructed joining to the Northside of the Gurdwara with the funding provided by the Government of Alberta Lottery in 1999. This facility became the temporary location of the Edmonton Khalsa School. This school provides education from playschool to Grade 6. In order to meet the heavy demand of the high registration of students it was decided to provide additional space. During 2012-2013 an extension was made to the existing Heritage facility and four rooms were added for instruction, along with a large library, an art room and music room.

Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha Society has always and will continue to remain active within our own community services. These include, contributions to the Red Cross Blood drive, Edmonton Food Bank, natural disasters drives and assistance to the Punjabi education at the University of Alberta. Gurdwara takes an active part in the celebration of the Nagaar Kirtan and holds an annual competition for tying turbans both for the children and adolescence.

The Gurdwara building and outside gates are opened daily. Anyone regardless of religion is welcome to eat langar provided daily. Accommodations are provided for visitors near and far.